Bound by an unseen bond and protected by promising words, with holy incantations going on in the background, marriage is one of the most scared affairs in Hindu society.
But alas! The sanctity of this relation, which is said to be made in heaven, is getting a relentless flogging in the present times.
The concept of marriage is based on sharing….sharing in so many areas of life. Such as:
Emotional– sharing of emotions and fantasies
Economic- sharing of accumulation, use and distribution of monetary resources.
Recreational- sharing of pleasure, not only together, but sharing of spouses with his or her own friends and companions.
Social– sharing of interpersonal activities.
Geographical- sharing of space, time and proximity.
Sexual- sharing of sensual and physical aspects.
Legal– involvement in legal processes together.
Religious- sharing of beliefs, customs and traditions.
When honest sharing of any of these areas in life gets hampered, conflicts are born. As soon as the myth that ‘romantic love conquers all’ gets eroded, the institution of marriage starts crumbling like a pack of cards . The reasons behind such a kind of hampering are as plenteous as there are reasons behind marriages. These reasons are manifested in the form of conflicts over role sharing, lack of communication and intimacy along with disruption of relational ideologies.
The marital relationship starts getting corroded and there is an apparent dissatisfaction in the relationship. Divorce and separation being easier in western countries help the couples to start a new life. But in countries like India, the process of going through a divorce is not only cumbersome and traumatic but quite painful too. Moreover taking a divorce is considered morally wrong due to the presence of taboos and age old value system of our society.
In such a situation, a new living arrangement has come up which is very rightly termed and “Empty Shell Marriage”. There is self silencing and ‘wife-demand and husband-withdraw’ communication between the partners which lead to cracks in the shell, leaking the ‘albumen of the life of marital relationship’. And what gets left behind is an ‘empty shell marriage’!
The spouses just keep on living together without any sense of togetherness, attachment and love. The emotional side of marital relationship then only shows a flux of individualism and nothing else. The connectivity between the partners is almost negligible. They keep ‘hanging on’ with each other out of duty and social obligations rather than warmth of love. The feelings for each other are not only cold but get frozen. Sexual relations are unsatisfactory. Familial ties are fragile and become knotty. External pressures blatantly bind them together in a relationship which has lost its sheen. They no longer try to sculpt each others qualities but rather try to pinpoint the weaknesses and vulnerable areas just to hurt each other. They fight but rarely settle anything. They become more resigned than committed to each other. There is all pervasive incompatibility between the partners. It is like living with an enemy all the time!
All this can result in enormous amount of stress both mental and physical on the partners. Depression and anxiety problems can then make life unbearable and difficult.
The situation exactly resembles when Danny DeVito in the movie “The War of the Roses” says, “two dilemmas that rattle the human skull: How do you hang on to someone who won’t stay? And how do you get rid of someone who won’t go?”
We can count the number of marriages that take place from the official registers, we can even find the numbers of divorces that take place from the law courts but how can we count the number of such empty shell marriages which is intolerably painful. The question that I would like to ask the readers here is:
What is better, an empty shell marriage or a divorce? What should one choose, a relationship that is characterized by a considerable conflict, tension, and bitterness or moving away from a relationship which neither has any future or scope of success?
What I personally feel is that a marriage is better than divorce if it has chances of working. But a divorce is always better than the extreme pain, sickness, ill health that might result from such empty shell marriages.